I believe the reason most people go on an Alaskan cruise is because they would like to see glaciers. We were already booked on an Alaskan cruise, but when my wife told me of an opportunity to see a glacier up close, I jumped on it. Unfortunately, I was initially wait listed, but I was later notified that I could participate.
Early the morning of the departure, the captain’s voice was broadcast over the public address system. He remarked that our destination that day, Tracy Arm, had too much ice and was unsafe for passage into the arm. Fortunately, they had a backup plan, the adjacent Endigo Arm, would be our destination.
We debarked the Disney Wonder at noon on Wednesday. What was billed as a catamaran, turned out to be a medium sized pleasure boat run by Allen Marine. Despite the size and the fact that most of the seating was inside, there was enough space to move to the outside deck for photo shoots.
Loading our boat was quickly done and approximately one hundred people boarded. Our mini cruise was led by an enthusiastic Juneau native, “Mo”. Growing up in the area, he had extensive knowledge about the climate, fish and local animals. While we were familiar with “icebergs”, most of us were also introduced to “bergy bits” (small icebergs) and “growlers” (floating ice).
Mo was intent on finding interesting things for us to see. He let us know about a waterfall coming up, but he eventually found two black bear fighting with each other. Through my camera lens, I could see them actually standing and fighting almost as if they were boxing.
Our captain piloted us down one area and eventually wound up the arm that where we could see the jewel of the trip, Dawe’s Glacier. It was slow moving as the captain of our boat was ensuring that he would not strike into the numerous floating ice in the area.
We eventually wound up at the crown jewel of our destination, Dawe’s Glacier. It was a commanding wall of ice that was mixed with blue and white hues. We learned that their blue color is obtained from the freezing process that eliminates air that was originally caught by falling snow. When light strikes the iceberg, it is absorbed rather than reflected and the ice returns a blue-green color.
An expedition cruise ship was already deep in the arm and was lowering Zodiak boats so that their passengers can get an “up close and personal view”. I think some of us were somewhat jealous that we couldn’t have that experience, but nevertheless we were appreciative that our boat was much closer than the Disney Wonder.
The captain of our boat made several quarter turns of his vessel. This allowed everyone on the boat to obtain a take a good picture of the glacier. We took off and because the Wonder was at the entrance to the arm, we were soon upon it. I think we were all grateful that we were able to check this off of our bucket list in grand style.